When you already live with depression, the symptoms become part of the backdrop of your daily experience. The pessimistic attitude and lack of joy is attributed to getting old, perhaps, or the general malaise of existence. The tiredness can be chalked up as a side effect of parenting a child, maybe stress, or the change in the seasons. They can happen to anyone, and do. The intrusive negative thoughts, though, the weepiness, the isolation and self loathing, those you recognize. But by then, it’s too late. The cycle has already circled over on me. (This is how my depression works, in cycles, giving me a glimpse of “good” time where I think I’m okay, out of the woods, and I forget just enough to think maybe I was imagining all of it. I fool myself into thinking that I can overcome this on my own, without letting on to anyone, but in reality, there’s no hiding anything.)
I declined medication during my “childbearing” years because I didn’t want to risk the side effects to the baby that were getting a lot of press lately. I ended my relationship with my therapist as well, which I posted about previously, and the replacement was just not a good fit either. I haven’t found a suitable alternative, and so, I’m without the crutches that most people would use in my situation.
Oh, and I’m also pregnant. Like, really pregnant. At the time of this writing, I’m just past the halfway mark in my gestation with my second (and hopefully last) pregnancy. Although I love motherhood and all it brings with it, even the gross and frustrating stuff, the biological toll it takes is daunting to say the least. Both pregnancies have been fraught with symptoms that aggravate my depression. For example, I’m experiencing generalized pain, pretty much everywhere, but definitely in my joints, even from very early on when hardly any weight had been gained. A sense of overwhelming fear about how the fuck I’m going to do this is the backdrop to my waking (and sleeping) mental dialog. There’s a bunch of other biological stuff that’s sort of gross, so I won’t share, but I’ll just say I VERY strongly long for my previous homeostasis.
About a week ago, the invasive thoughts became more aggressive, and were drowning out much of my ability to do work or focus on a conversation. I choked at the drive thru order window. I had to apologize to every person taking a food order, because I fumbled my words so badly I just needed to start over. I found myself turning away from the impulse to contact my friends, spend time with my family, or even speak kindly to myself in any way. I just didn’t deserve it, so my brain would have you believe.
Realizing that I had another four months to get through, when hormones levels would take an increasingly heavy role in my decisions and actions, I understood that I was about to go down a slippery slope. I pulled up a quick depression screen online, and scored MAJOR on everything except the self harm items. Thankfully, the idea of self harm has never entered my mind. Having my son and another inside me, self harm was not an option. My body was needed, maybe not by me, but by them. It makes sense to me, at least, that I turned over that autonomy to a 3 year old and a 6 month gestating fetus, so that I wouldn’t do anything stupid or harmful.
Still, I knew I needed to do something. So, I started by calling my doctor (my primary care) under the guise of discussing vaccines I would need if any, and to discuss prescriptions for immediately following delivery. Luckily for me, where my therapists have not been a good fit, I found a caring and compassionate doctor in my family physician. We discuss my depression openly at our annual physicals, and he is adamant that if I ever find myself in crisis that I call immediately. Knowing I have this available to me is the last safety blanket I have, and I cling to it desperately.
Unfortunately, I have to wait almost two months for an open appointment to discuss (which is understandable given my timeline), so I have to suck it up until then. I’ve been trying to force myself to have conversations with people about how I’m feeling. It takes away the negative thoughts’ power somewhat. I’ve been focusing on getting to the gym too, which is another respite. But it’s not easy. I know it’s going to get worse before the end of the pregnancy. I won’t feel good until the baby is born safely and healthy in my arms. And then, I can finally reach for the prozac.